(Tahlequah, Okla.)--Northeastern State University alumna Sarah Vann makes such an immense impact teaching science at the Owasso Eighth Grade Center that she recently received an elite education honor.
Vann was presented the Milken Educator Award for 2011 at the Oklahoma state capitol on April 10, where she was recognized on the House and Senate floors.
"My principal, Deirdre Hodge, received a call telling of my nomination," Vann said. "She was told to keep it confidential and filled out a ton of paperwork. But I haven't the slightest idea who nominated me. I certainly thank whomever it was."
Vann was informed of the award during a surprise assembly on Oct. 31, 2011, attended by Oklahoma Superintendent of Public Instruction Janet Barresi, Congressman John Sullivan and Dr. Jane Foley of the Milken Family Foundation.
She is one of only 40 educators to receive the honor for 2011. Accompanying the Milken Award was a check for $25,000 to spend as she wished.
"I used it to pay off my graduate school debt and my vehicle," she said. "When I wrote my thank you to the Milken foundation, I explained how the award was life-changing."
The Milken Educator Award is presented to elementary and secondary school teachers, principals and specialists who further excellence in education.
A nationally board certified teacher, Vann said she always felt called to a career in education.
"I grew up in a family of educators," she said. "What I love about teaching is it's never the same. It's a new day every day. The kids bring so much joy to my life. Not a day goes by that I don't laugh. I also enjoy when former students return to visit."
She said she loves teaching middle school students.
"It is wonderful when you see students get excited about science and tell you your class is their favorite," Vann said. "But at that age they are also learning about life and teachers must consider that. I try to explain that it is better to learn from troubles than get mad about them. If they know you respect them, they listen more. You need to be consistent and they need to know you are there for the right reasons."
Vann graduated from NSU in 2002 with a bachelor's degree in science education with a biology emphasis. She received a master's in educational technology from Oklahoma State University in December 2011.
"My experiences have shaped who I've become, and I'm thankful for friends, family and being able to go to NSU," Vann said. "It was a good place to embark on my career in science education."
She also cited the welcoming campus atmosphere and individual instruction from faculty as reasons she enjoyed attending Northeastern.
"When I was presented the Milken award, I invited three of my favorite professors, Dr. Chuck Ziehr, Dr. Craig Clifford and Dr. Mia Revels, to attend," she said. "They did. At what other university will three professors show up 10 years later at a former student's award ceremony? I love the personal touch at NSU and I'm happy I went to school there."
Published: 4/30/2012 2:06:00 PM